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HBO's "Winning Time" part of TV trend favoring "prefabricated narrative"

Contemporary TV is "awash in semi-fictionalized accounts of recent-ish events," as shows "elide the logistical and cost concerns associated with telling a new story from scratch by falling back on a prefabricated narrative," according to Elizabeth Nelson of the N.Y. TIMES. Many of the people depicted in HBO’s “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” will be "familiar to basketball-loving viewers," and that is "part of the appeal." For those who lived through this "total blast of a Lakers season," it has to be "unbelievably fun reliving it on HBO." But while the acknowledged source material for “Winning Time” is longtime reporter Jeff Pearlman’s '14 book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s,” the process of adapting it seems to have "been as freewheeling as the team’s run-and-gun offense." This is "most apparent" in the show’s treatment of Jerry West, who in the show is a "basketball savant with serious rage issues." The West in "Winning Time" does not "square with the real Jerry West’s recollections, or with the recollections of many others who were part of the Lakers organization at the time." It is notable that West’s "more outrageous moments on the show aren’t in Pearlman’s book." Now that the series has been greenlit for a second season, it will be "interesting to see whether the showrunners take West’s pushback and deep love for the Lakers into account as they develop his character and lay out his coming achievements" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/25).

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